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Showing posts from October, 2014

In Conversation with MEDRIE PURDHAM

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A small, smoky basement cafe (in the not-so-distant past when cafes could be smoky). Singing (Esma, Queen of the Gypsies) and poetry (various, with throat-clearing and shouts and whispers). I was introduced to a quiet young woman along the back wall, whose smile made me feel I could say anything. I'd heard about her poems -- luminous, resonant -- but hadn't read any. And I wasn't going to hear any that night, because she was there to listen. That's Medrie. She really listens. And when she speaks, in poetry or conversation, the most wonderful things come out. SUSAN GILLIS: What brought you to poetry in the first place? MEDRIE PURDHAM: When I was eleven, I got a daily paper route. It had to be completed by 7 a.m., which meant that for the greater part of the year, it had to be done in the pre-dawn dark, in the long shadows of our quiet suburban streets. My mother let me do this route only as long as I didn't come home through the park, even though it was a sh

Medrie Purdham: A Poem

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Image by Angela King-Jones, courtesy of Red Edge Images Medrie Purdham YOU CALL YOUR NEXT CHILD   Yes, work now at pinning matter to spirit; do it even if you think it’s just a quibble with the wind. If it would make something happen, you’d jettison this poem into space. You’d moor it in the hollowed bone of an animal you’d spoken to softly. You’d say it by rote in the presence of celibates. You’d mar it in the May fires; you’d burn it to bits.        Your first son, two years old, says time is not angry.        He thinks numbers are girls, he thinks he’s a vowel.        A forkful of cake makes him think he’s turned three.        The compulsive priest of his own magic, he        alters even his own likeness in a slow cascade. Listen, we all know better than to name the thing we want. The year is moving like treacle. All its birds are ghosts. Is there a way to invite that other body? Throw a stone from a cairn but save its replica. Plant a pear-tree in

Karen Enns in Conversation

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When Karen Enns took the stage to read from Ordinary Hours , her newest book, in a small bookshop in Montreal on a hot evening--or was it cold? That's what happens when Karen Enns takes the stage with her newest book, and it's anything but ordinary. SUSAN GILLIS: What brought you to poetry in the first place? KAREN ENNS: I think reading or writing a poem is a way of savouring some very elusive, very private tension. That’s probably what drew me in when I was young, although I wouldn’t have articulated it in quite the same way. You could really live in that small space, it seemed to me. The tension was partly a musical one, something to do with consonance and dissonance, but it was also connected with the way words worked on the page. What was included and what was left out. SG: Words on the page: the space they make, and living in it--what you say here resonates with how I read your poems. They feel like rooms with good proportions. There's a spaciousness, a kind of