I grew up between two polarities: on the one hand, anxiety of influence, the necessity to seem utterly independent as an artist, to somehow divorce oneself from the progress of predecessors, to have a voice so completely, starkly unique; on the other hand, emulation of influence, the mistrust of own creative impetus, the drive to find another’s voice and try to copy and embody it, the need to disown personal force in favour of what has been done. Of course, both these examples are extremes and there is a beauteous middle ground, which I might call the generosity of influence. For me, influence is an acknowledgement of the work peers and predecessors are doing or have done; it is a move from isolated work into conversation between works; it is collaboration, communication, and credit; it is the strength which also drives new work to be produced, which creates a climate conducive to risk and creative exploration. Read more →
“You’re late,” Madame McKinnon said for the third time, tugging on the left sleeve of her dress.
She appeared quite content to stay in her armchair. In fact, it appeared to be her favourite pastime – pulling her sleeves and telling people they were late.
“You’re awfully late,” she repeated.
“Yes, Madame, I do apologize, it’s because of the bus, as I said…”
I want to be somewhere else, Marie Bilodeau thought feverishly. Read more →
When I was five, you and I duelled
with Tang dynasty verses, a match
to see whose breath held
more poetry. You won with
mind-reader wits, predicting
each poem I had recalled, reciting
each before my turn. I gave up Read more →
It is told and retold
of how Kohkum killed a bear with a river rock
an arm like Ronnie Lancaster (that old Saskatchewan Roughrider)
she throws with precision
at Muskwa’s third eye
it is like a baby’s soft spot Read more →
my mom bought me new tights as an obsession because she knew the loss of luster that comes with overusing. she wanted me to look held together, like i was taken care of by the consistency of clean thread. as they bound my legs, their thin hairs and discolored bites, they knew what it means to overstretch and survive the fleshy orientation of the leg. Read more →
Fifty feet up, beachcombers pad their handbags with sand dollars, sea glass, sun-bleached urchins; honeymooners share a bowl of stewed conch across a gingham tablecloth; a mother washes her infant in the tide while Dad crams five quarts of discount rum in their safety deposit box; a dentist’s wife sleeps under a sea grape tree; Dicky Jr. slingshots butterflies; a perfume of parrots shakes from the banyan; the beach is a shock of white sand; three NASA officials and two behavioural psychologists crowd a bank of video monitors inside a mobile trailer. On the screens, four women in bikinis eat enchiladas around a hide-a-table.
Surrendering, I read, is a one-way door. It has a window but no handle, and when you’re through, you’re through. I met Karen at a St. Hubert just off the 40. She had requested the meeting spot. It seemed like an odd place for someone like her to request, but people can surprise you. They generally don’t, but they can. The St. Hubert was one of those franchises that looks like a barn, with a slanted burgundy roof. Inside it smelled like fried chicken, naturally, and bubblegum. The second smell was incongruous; it must have been a cleaning product or the collective odour of the teenagers that worked there. I ordered potato wedges and a diet Coke. Read more →
Eating a baguette with hummus and chutney on my IKEA futon that is no longer in production, I think of my mom, dad, and sister, who are moving into a smaller house, still in the suburbs of Coquitlam. They’ve made several trips to IKEA and Winners in the past few weeks, sometimes unnecessarily. But I don’t make a fuss, because they’re happy. Things aren’t extremely difficult for what might be the first time in our lives. Read more →