Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Cruellest Month

Hello, April. Blogger tells me this is the 801st post on CLM. Not including, of course, those that have been deleted. Pace the bean-counter, numbers lie as much as anyone else.

April is, of course, for better or for wourse, National Poetry Month. 30 days hath NaPoMo and as we know, Julie Wilson will be presenting 30 poets (or so) over at Seen Reading. She's already posted the archive, which is bound to grow. There you can hear all kinds of great stuff--I've only made a small dent myself--including yours truly reading a poem of his own and a poem of Edwin Muir's.

A bunch of other folks have undertaken similar serializations. The National Post's blog, The Afterword, will be publishing 30 poet profiles/Q&A's over the course of the month, including one of yours truly, on a date TBA. Angel House Press promises to also expose us to one verser a day. As does the League of Canadian Poets--members only, natch.

What am I doing for NaPoMo? Running. I handed the keys to my erstwhile apartment over to the landlord yesterday, our goods--what's left of them--were loaded on a truck on the 28th. We're now at no fixed address for 30 days. Right now, we're crashing at my sister-in-law's while she and her family are in Mexico. Tomorrow, my family and I head to Sechelt for a getaway weekend given to us by said sister-in-law as a marriage present last April and untaken advantage of till now due to Kaleb's birth and general busyness. On our return, we'll be spending a few days at my mother-in-law's in False Creek before leaving on April 8 (which happens to be my pa's 73rd birthday; so many of my relatives, including my darling wife, were born in April) for Scotland (another wedding gift, this one from Rachel's dad). We fly into Edinburgh, via Amsterdam, spend a night, then we rent a car and drive up to Stromness in the Orkneys (Rachel's mother's maiden name, coincidentally, is Strom), where we'll be spending what promises to be a glorious week in a stone cottage on a pier, hard by the erstwhile home of the wonderful Orcadian poet George MacKay Brown. I'm reading Brown's novel, Beside the Ocean of Time, in preparation for the trip. I've also recently finished reading the autobiography of Edwin Muir, former teacher of Brown and outstanding poet, translator (most notably of Kafka, along with his wife, Willa) and critic. The two make for an interesting contrast: Muir the cosmopolitan nomad and Brown the stay-at-home islander. A contrast familiar to anyone who grew up on an island. Or in any remote/rural community, for that matter. There are an awful lot of landlocked islands in the world today. From Orkney, we make our way back to Edinburgh, stopping in Glencoe before finishing the trip with 5 days in the capital city, where we've rented a flat.

We'll be back in Canada late April, flying into Montreal, then taking the train to Halifax, where we'll hole up in a hotel a couple of days before retaking possession of our North End house, resuming some version of the life we led between 2004-06. We're making this epic move--again--for a number of reasons, personal and financial. What it boils down to is that we're far better equipped to lead the sort of life we want to lead in Halifax than we are in Vancouver, a city far too expensive for anyone not wealthy or overfond of working hard.

So, CLM will be unwontedly quiet over April as we go, as Chaucer said, on pilgrimage. But I'll try to post the odd photo from our travels.

1 comment:

Kate S. said...

I look forward to hearing your impressions of Stromness. My family roots go way back there and I've long been meaning to visit but haven't managed it yet. I followed the link to your stone cottage and it looks as though it's just down the road from Alfred Street which is where my great, great, great grandfather was living when he died in 1884. If I had a house number, I'd ask you to look for it, but alas his death certificate gives only the street name and not the house number.

George MacKay Brown's autobiography, For the Islands I Sing, is also worth a read. It's as much about Orkney as it is about himself. And there are some interesting bits in there about his stint as a student of Edwin Muir in the early 1950s at Newbattle Abbey not far from Edinburgh.