Going into the next month or so, late August to late September, I find myself in a rather unique position, breathing some rare air, as they say.
I have just returned from Wells, BC and a stint with the Sunset Theatre, a real gem and ray of hope in the Canadian theatre cosmology. I was there as a dramaturge, helping worry Michaela Jeffery’s new play, Hardscrabble Road, into production and into the world.
At the same time, I was working with the truly gifted cellist, Morag Northey, helping her create a one woman show for herself and her cello. We got a good start on that and hope to premier the play back in Wells next summer.
It felt good to work in the theatre again — it’s been a while as I took a detour the last few years into the world of the novel with the writing of my own novel, The Piano Teacher.
It’s been a wonderful ride, so wonderful in fact I wonder why I didn’t think of it before. This week I will be taking part in a reading at Shelf Life Books on Tuesday, August 16 in conjunction with the W.O. Mitchell Award. This is an award given by the Writers Guild of Alberta and the City of Calgary to honour what was felt to be the finest book written in the city in the last year.
I am a finalist this year for The Piano Teacher, along with Sharon Butala and Will Ferguson. The three of us will be reading from our books on Tuesday.
Maybe it sounds trite, yet it’s true, I respect both of these writers tremendously and will be honoured to be in their company – win or lose, this nomination means a lot. They will announce the recipient on September 28 – more on that at a later date.
At the same time, I have been occupied with a new venture, a volume of poems that I have written through the years, titled Nocturnal Emissions. And so another book of poetry comes into the world. In some ways it is difficult to get excited about a book of poems, and yet I am encouraged by the words of the poet William Carlos Williams:
It is difficult the get the news from poems
Yet men die miserably everyday for lack of what is found there.
I find there has been too much news in the world of late. Maybe a book of poems is needed more than ever.
I suppose for me this book is really a labour of love. It’s a way for me to celebrate my upcoming birthday, as I endeavour not to go gentle into that good night!
Nocturnal Emissions will be launched on September 22 at Shelf Life Books, and then relaunched and christened with beer on my birthday, September 24 at a surprise birthday party I’m throwing for myself (I know, I know) at the Blond Monk pub on 12th Ave.
Here’s one of the poems from the collection:
The colour drains The spirit wanes I hardly know What to make of it It was a day like this When jazz first got blown Or Bell talked into his phone Or Einstein bent a ray of light Or Leonardo dreamed of flight Anything Not to be alone Anything to discover a reason why And so I write, deep into the night There are better ways than this I suppose Commerce Athletics Alcoholism Yoga Making out with a stranger in a basement suite While a big dog scratches at the door I struck on this A hundred years Ago so Here I sit Doing it Still
I called this post Factotum, which, as I understand the word, means someone who does a lot of different jobs, which in the writing world seems true of me. I’ve always enjoyed this sense of versatility, being able to express myself artistically in a number of different forms and genres. Seems they are all converging these days which is really quite magical.
All in all, I have to say the next six weeks are so are shaping up to be very exciting in the world of Eugenius. I hope you can help me celebrate my birthday by attending any or all of these events and of course, buying the books.
Thanks for reading!