Category Archives: News

The Glove Compartment

By Douglas Dunn

Douglas DunnAfter her stroke, hers was the first to go.
It sat for two years in their garage, though,
All through the months of her recovery,
Though that was far from full.  Vocabulary
Re-emerged, but slowly.  So he retired
A few years earlier than anticipated.
He couldn’t leave it all to the nurse he’d hired;
She said he shouldn’t, but that’s what he did.
‘Please, sell my car.  I’ll never drive again.’
It seemed as final as a sung Amen.
He knew it must happen, but didn’t know when.
When he opened her glove compartment
He found small change, lip salve, tissues, receipts
From shops and filling stations, peppermint,
An ice-scraper, lipstick, and boiled sweets,
Two tickets for a play at Dundee Rep
(Unused), all sorts of trivial stuff.
He shoved them in bag.  Sat back and wept.
There’s love in the world. But never enough.

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The Invisible Poems Hidden in One of the World’s Oldest Libraries

A new technique is revealing traces of lost languages that have been erased from ancient parchments.
The Invisible Poems HiddenFor centuries they have gathered dust on the shelves of a library marooned in a rocky patch of Egyptian desert, their secrets lost in time. But now a collection of enigmatic manuscripts, carefully stored behind the walls of a 1,500-year-old monastery on the Sinai Peninsula, are giving up their treasures.

The library at Saint Catherine’s Monastery is the oldest continually operating library in the world. Among its thousands of ancient parchments are at least 160 palimpsests—manuscripts that bear faint scratches and flecks of ink beneath more recent writing. These illegible marks are the only clues to words that were scraped away by the monastery’s monks between the 8th and 12th centuries to reuse the parchments. Some were written in long-lost languages that have almost entirely vanished from the historical record.
But now these erased passages are reemerging from the past. In an unlikely collaboration between an Orthodox wing of the Christian faith and cutting-edge science, a small group of international researchers are using specialized imaging techniques that photograph the parchments with different colors of light from multiple angles. This technology allows the researchers to read the original texts for the first time since they were wiped away, revealing lost ancient poems and early religious texts and doubling the known vocabulary of languages that have not been used for more than 1,000 years.
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AMERICA TODAYThe long days of summer offer an opportunity to reflect. We selected six poems by contemporary American poets and asked six photographers to let the poems inspire them.

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By Douglas Dunn

EmpiresAll the dead Imperia…They have gone

Taking their atlases and grand pianos.

They could not leave geography alone.

They conquered with the thistle and the rose.

To our forefathers it was right to raise

Their pretty flag at every foreign dawn

Then lower it at sunset in a haze

Of bugle-brass. They interfered with place,

Time, people, lives and so to bed. They died

When it died. It had died before. It died

Before they did. They did not know it. Race,

Power, Trade, Fleet, a hundred regiments,

Postponed that final reckoning with pride,

Which was expensive. Counting up the cost

We plunder morals from the power they lost.

They ruined us. They conquered continents.

We filled their uniforms. We cruised the seas,

We worked their mines and made their histories.

You work, we rule, they said. We worked; they ruled.

They fooled the tenements. All men were fooled.

It still persists. It will be so, always.

Listen. An out-of-work apprentice plays

God Save the Queen on an Edwardian flute.

He is, but does not know it, destitute.

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Time to Register for our July 27, 2017 Summer Session

reminder-2Poetry lovers, it’s time to register for our summer 2017 session (July 27). Registration is free, of course. You may register in person, via telephone (604-713-1800) or Register online.
Please take the time to do this, as our free room at the Roundhouse Community Centre depends upon their awareness that we are an active group. So far, only two of our members have registered for the summer session.

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Heathcote Williams, Radical British Poet Who Helped Form Anarchist Nation, Dies at 75

By WILLIAM GRIMESHeathcote WilliamsHeathcote Williams, a poet, playwright, actor, lyricist, painter, sculptor, magician and relentless scourge of the British establishment for half a century, died on Saturday in Oxford. He was 75.
His daughter Lily Williams said the cause was lung disease.
Mr. Williams, a radical in the tradition of Blake and Shelley, vented his outrage at royal privilege, private property, environmental degradation and a host of other targets, using every artistic means available.
He took dead aim at enforced conformity, the stupefying effects of television and the malign intentions of mental health professionals in plays like “AC/DC.”

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Alice Oswald takes $65,000 Griffin prize with ‘breathtaking’ poetry

Falling Awake, already a much acclaimed collection, was cheered by 1,000-strong crowd at readings connected with the Canadian award

Falling-AwakeAlice Oswald has won one of the world’s richest poetry prizes with her latest collection, Falling Awake.
This dreamlike vision of the West Country carried off the 2017 International Griffin poetry prize, worth C$65,000 (£37,725). The same sum was also presented to the Vancouver poet Jordan Abel, who took home the Canadian prize with his long poem about cultural appropriation and racism, Injun.
Oswald said she was delighted to be part of the “atmosphere of real warmth and carnival” surrounding the award from the Griffin trust, whose work in schools she “deeply admired”.
“I’ve spent the last week exploring Canada and being looked after by its people and amazed by its forests – the international aspect of this prize is what matters to me,” she said. “Most of my favourite poets (both dead and alive) have never won prizes. However, in the spirit of carnival, it’s important for all people to wear a crown and ride on a float for a day – as long as they don’t turn up for work in it.”

Prize judge George Szirtes said that after reading through 617 submissions it was “not too hard a choice” to select Oswald’s collection.
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Brendan Kennelly at 80: forever beginning, the balladeer of our age

The poet has extended the ballad to an epic scale by coupling it with the lyric, the sonnet, writes Gabriel Fitzmaurice..
Brendan Kennelly at 80Brendan Kennelly was born in Ballylongford, Co Kerry, on April 17th, 1936, the son of Tim Kennelly, publican and garage proprietor, and his wife Bridie Ahern, a nurse. Ballylongford is a small village like the other villages in the hinterland of Listowel in North Kerry.
To understand Kennelly and his poetry, you have to come to terms with the traditional culture of the area which Kennelly has translated into poetry, both intimate and epic. It’s flat land touching the River Shannon and the Atlantic. For the most part pasture land, it was, in Kennelly’s youth, mainly a farming community. The farmers, small farmers mostly, were generally not well off. But they loved to sing. At night they’d go to the local pub on bicycles or on foot (this was before the general availability of the car), drink “small ones” (whiskies) and pints of Guinness, and swap stories, news, songs and “recitations”.
Memory, in particular the poet’s memory, gathers these moments together. Kennelly’s was, and remains, a public house – Brendan heard these songs, stories and recitations regularly in the pub – not just imported songs (from the gramophone and radio – there was as yet no television) but local ballads too.

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By Joshua Rothman

Robert Frost

Robert Frost

Fifty years ago today [January 29, 2013], the poet Robert Lee Frost died, at the age of eighty-eight. Though Frost is thought of as a contemplative New England poet, he was born in San Francisco, and named for the Confederate general Robert E. Lee. As Raymond Holden explained in his 1931 New Yorker Profile of Frost, Frost’s father, William, was “an ardent Democrat and States’ Rights man.” Father Frost had tried to enlist in the Civil War on the Southern side, but was rejected because he was too young. “By the time Robert was born,” Holden writes, “the elder Frost was booming around San Francisco in a top hat, whooping up everything that was Democratic and belittling everything that wasn’t.” The young Robert Lee Frost grew up in politics; William Frost wrote for the San Francisco Bulletin, where a political enemy once took a shot at him through the window. “Around election time, the boy’s father used to dress him up in fancy costume and make him ride on floats in political parades or pound along in some torchlight procession getting sparks in his hair. Once when Father Frost was running for the office of something like tax-collector, Robert tagged around after him into all the saloons, helping to tack up election placards.”
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An early reminder that we’ll be reading and discussing the poetry of Robert Frost on May 25. Please bring your own choice of a poem by Frost, and if you wish, post it first on the blog via the CONTACT US page, or email it to me directly. Please see the SCHEDULE PAGE for selections to-date.

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On the Fifth Day

Jane Hirshfield

Jane_HirshfieldThat common ground between poetry and science is what poet Jane Hirshfield sows with splendor in her poem “On the Fifth Day,” written for the 2017 March for Science in Washington, D.C., protesting the anti-fact, anti-truth, anti-science political climate of the current American administration.
On the fifth day
the scientists who studied the rivers
were forbidden to speak
or to study the rivers.

The scientists who studied the air
were told not to speak of the air,
and the ones who worked for the farmers
were silenced,
and the ones who worked for the bees.

Someone, from deep in the Badlands,
began posting facts.

The facts were told not to speak
and were taken away.
The facts, surprised to be taken, were silent.

Now it was only the rivers
that spoke of the rivers,
and only the wind that spoke of its bees,

while the unpausing factual buds of the fruit trees
continued to move toward their fruit.

The silence spoke loudly of silence,
and the rivers kept speaking,
of rivers, of boulders and air.

In gravity, earless and tongueless,
the untested rivers kept speaking.

Bus drivers, shelf stockers,
code writers, machinists, accountants,
lab techs, cellists kept speaking.

They spoke, the fifth day,
of silence.

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