crop samples

Today marks the first of the fall season and we’re under a heat warning. I will hereby be all over the place doing all sorts of things, starting tonight in Montreal, so I have started up a small monthly newsletter called crop samples to keep you (and myself) abreast of the latest goings-on direct from the inside of my skull. Here’s a link for you to subscribe. Please do join to keep up with the season. And I hope the season treats you well.

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Alberta, Alberta

I hadn’t been home in seven months—the longest stretch in a while.

(There were readings in Edmonton and Calgary—click the links for photos. There was also a family wedding.)

And I was thirsty the whole time for the things of my home. There’s a huge amount of large-scale construction—earth-moving, road-building—in and around the place I grew up that it took a bit of concerted effort to get to the things of home.

Here are a few representative samples:

poplar roots

Poplar roots like snakes underground

poplar mess

Poplar shapes; their smell

pigeon lake

Pigeon Lake

jackrabbit

Jackrabbit in suburban crescent.

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Train tracks removed, Whyte Ave., Edmonton.

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“Guys” by Mason Graham, age 4.

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The beautiful Bow, just south of Calgary.

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Off the back deck of my adolescence. Apple and cherry trees in the foreground.

Approaching Toronto From the South

April brought trips to the Big Smoke under bright blue skies—some of the first of spring.

Look up at the sky there and you see other things, too.

Spent some time hovering near the Gardiner Expressway, that crumbly old relic, that need.

There’s old amid all this new and sight remains selective.

Mine so far off the ground these last few pilgrimages, this first of spring.

 

A Settler Survey

On this, Settler Education’s publication day, I’d like to ask you non-indigenous Canadian sorts some questions.

I’ve read some of the poems in this book in public, in Ontario, and I’ve found myself needing to first find out what audiences know about the stories and events told in this book, a good number of them considered to be “of the West.” To see where I’m starting from.

So it’s in that spirit that I present to you this small survey. I’d be delighted to receive your most honest responses or any or all of the questions below. I’d love to hear where you learned what you know. You can use the contact form on this website, if you like, or you can comment below. Thanks kindly.

Rifle Pits

A rifle pit at Frenchman Butte, in what is now Saskatchewan.

A Settler Survey 

What do you know about the Northwest Resistance?

When I mention the Frog Lake “massacre,” what does that mean to you? Anything?

If someone asked you who Big Bear, Poundmaker, and/or Gabriel Dumont were, what would you say? How about Louis Riel?

What treaty territory do you live in? Before settlement, who lived where you live now?

What residential schools did you grow up nearest to? What reserves are closest to you as you read this?

David Lynch at the Piano

Here’s how Lynch collaborates with Badalamenti on the music for his films. This passage comes from Lynch’s book Catching the Big Fish:

 

Angelo Badalamenti

I met Angelo Badalamenti on Blue Velvet and since then he has composed music for all my films. He’s like my brother.
     The way we work is: I like to sit next to him on the piano bench. I talk and Angelo plays. He plays my words. But sometimes he doesn’t understand my words, so he plays very badly. Then I say, “No, no, no, no, Angelo.” And I change my words a little bit, and he plays differently. And then I say, “No, no, no, no, Angelo,” and I change my words. And somehow through this process he will catch something, and I’ll say, “That’s it!” And then he starts going with his magic, down that correct path. It’s so much fun. If Angelo lived next door to me, I’d like to do this every day. But he lives in New Jersey, and I live in Los Angeles.

~