Sunday, July 27, 2008

Patricia Young's "More Watery Still"

Patricia Young's 1993 poetry collection, More Watery Still, colours with anecdote and reminiscence a warm mix of sexuality, commonplace aesthetic appreciation, and familial pangs. It's always a danger speaking in the authorial "I" when the experiences are straightforward rather than a lever for metaphor, but Young manages, through honest emotion, arresting and lucid images and attention to demarcations of personality, to infuse her reveries with, what could easily have sunk to the banal and bathetic, moving collisions of people at circumstantial cross purposes.

The volume's first two efforts -- "When The Body Speaks To The Heart It Says" and "Tobacco Jar, 1867" -- are unusual for what follows: complex paeans to the body (the former-- "Waist-deep I stop in salal, I am trying to be /ruffed as a grouse") and to beauty/art transcending harsh reality (the latter--"This is a tobacco jar though we've always used it for honey").

In these suffocationg decades of mistrust of emotion -- no, of derision for even the possibility of experiencing deep feeling, let alone being able to convey it in affecting encryption -- it's wonderful to read a poet who not only seems to not argue against the obsession with dryness, with insoluble elliptical language games, but who seems blissfully unaware of that faddishness masking as profundity. In fact, I admire and even envy those poets who insouciantly write their poems without reference to those needless agonies, and I support that it's not only not necessary to know a thing about the contemporary history of such, but that it even saves time and angst negotiating with its existence in abstract inconsequentialities.

So "bravo!" to Young when she lays down lines such as "it's my fierce attitude you hate,/O my girl, I/hate it too" and "...I am crazy/for your kisses, the way/you dole them out/like Black/Magic/chocolates ...". Some, perhaps many, would scoff at the sentiment, and it's true that these, and other lines, won't ever be enshrined in a "Best Of ...." modern anthology, but I like the proportion, the clever depiction of fleeting memory, sharply etched. As against so many of what I've been reading lately, Canadian poetry where the strain to be ineffable on every line becomes nauseous, these are lines that ask to be experienced with a little salt, a little lemon, and a little sun, pleasing, and lingering for a while, perhaps to be recalled in a future idle outdoors moment.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Seasonal Changes

Used to be that every spring I'd excise my Protestant work ethic -- intuiting the warmth of May and the crazy flower smells as instant signals to taper off -- and head to the beach, spending what I'd saved on living (as opposed to dying, piecemeal and grimly, with the most toys -- I still haven't figured out that "lifestyle" choice).

As the years have rolled on, however, for a variety of reasons, I've not only maintained a sameness of work hours when others are taking in their shingle for July-August, but have even upped the taking on of indoor mole-hours, thinking and computing and planning. The best racing heats up in the summer -- full fields of horses at Del Mar in San Diego, Saratoga in upstate New York, the (in so many ways) excellent meet at Arlington in Chicago, Toronto's Woodbine, New Jersey's four month Monmouth fare, and even the third-tier tracks of Presque Isle, Ellis Park, my beloved Hastings home site, and others. Pick Four possibilites multiply exponentially, and I emerge from my den past midnight some days with refridgerator-white pallor, glassy stare, mumbly demeanor, and quizzical approach to the open air beyond the computer cubicle.

I've talked with many others who're self-employed, and they all say the same thing: "I'm working harder now than when I had to show up for the Man!" It's worth it, of course -- no overseeing bastard satraps with glowering astringency; no mind-numbing routine of other-engendered stimulation; no political gamesmanship (ah, the "good ole days") -- but when one is motivated, the clock not only is not watched fanatically, it evaporates. Hours seem like minutes, to turn the Led Zeppelin song "Tea For One" around, and the realization sets in that intellectual stimulation has run amok in place of walking, talking, hiking, biking, watching cloud formations and enjoying slow hypnotic libations.

Ahhh, summer, I remember it well ....

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Hockey Quote

Spotted this quote, obviously made over a decade ago, while surfing for news on the Vancouver Canucks free-agent signings (or lack thereof):

"I just came back from the Canucks' dressing room, and I have to reassure you that Pavel Bure's groin feels great." -- Tom Larscheid.