Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dave Brosha photo tribute

I met a lot of amazing people while I lived and worked in Resolute Bay. One of the best was Dave Brosha, who moved to Resolute with his wife Erin shortly after I started working there. The Broshas later moved to Yellowknife, where Dave took the plunge, followed his dream and became a full-time photographer. His jaw-dropping photos have since been published widely, in prominent venues like National Geographic. Dave has put together a very moving and affirmative photo tribute to Resolute, in the wake of the devastating accident there.

Resolute from Dave Brosha on Vimeo.

An old poem of mine about Resolute Bay

for R.

From this hilltop, dusty vistas of crushed
stone, unrestricted zones of brown
gravel. Under your feet the first
purple syllable of saxifrage
breaks rock, puckered heads of poppies
prepare to bellow small yellow
shouts. Over that hill,
in the valley, the river runs
black with the backs of char,
one muscle, a ford. The bay's
thousand whitecaps aren't waves,
they're beluga. And that noise you hear
is not merely the wind.

(from Unsettled, Insomniac Press 2004)

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Air 6560

Most people reading this will have heard about the terrible plane crash in Resolute Bay, Nunavut the other day. When I first learned of the accident, my gut twisted into knots. I worked for First Air from 1996-2003. My last two years with the company were spent in Resolute Bay, where, for four weeks at a time, I basically was the cargo department. C-GNWN, the plane that went down, is one I know well. I loaded and offloaded it hundreds of times. I had a sick feeling, before any specifics were public, that among the twelve victims were probably people I knew.

I finally found out that three of the people killed in the crash of Flight 6560 were old friends and acquaintances. Captain Blair Rutherford was an uncommonly good man. Airlines are like huge families, not only in positive terms. There is routinely a lot of melodrama, backbiting and gossip. For all that, Blair was a man I never heard maligned by anyone. I flew with him dozens of times and always appreciated his wry, quiet, good-natured humour. I have known his wife, Tatiana, even longer. She was a flight attendant when I first started working up north, and as feisty, smart and large-hearted a woman as you'd care to know. I remember being glad to hear that she and Blair, whose personalities complemented each other beautifully, were a couple--and gladder still when they married and had kids. And so it is with commensurate sadness that I think of her loss.

Two employees of South Camp Inn that I knew from my days in Resolute Bay were also killed. I didn't know Mike and Randy exceptionally well, but they were good guys. I especially enjoyed Mike's ribald banter whenever he came to the First Air freight shed to pick up cargo for South Camp. Aziz Kheraj, the owner of South Camp (he also became mayor of Resolute while I lived there), also suffered a terrible family loss in the crash. His two young granddaughters were on the flight, and one of them died. So my thoughts are with Aziz and his large extended family, which includes my old friend and First Air colleague Mavis. In a town the size of Resolute and at a tight-knit company like First Air, everyone is family. No words are adequate.


i.m. Blair Rutherford and First Air Flight 6560

This morning
twelve poppy blossoms
where last night
there was none.
Purple hearts bleed out
to pink, tissue-thin
I didn't plant the poppies.
A single volunteer
and proliferated
over years.
Their foliage is ugly
but I keep them
for these livid
blooms. On this windward
hillside, they can't last.
Each blast of air
carries off a petal.
At sundown
the stalks again
are bare.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Trotter Daily

So nice to come off the railroad this evening to find a poem of Josh Trotter's featured on Poetry Daily. It's particularly cool for me to see this poem, "Welcoming Party," chosen. Overall, I have to say that editing Josh's collection was an easy job. He's such a meticulous craftsman that there wasn't a whole lot of line by line editing required. Most of the work consisted of us discussing the pros and cons of including particular poems. There was one Josh wanted to cut and I agreed that it wasn't especially strong, but I absolutely loved its first stanza (of three). I suggested to Josh that he cut the other two stanzas because the first stood alone beautifully. Josh agreed and so "Welcoming Party" found its form.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Jaela E. Bernstien on the real problem

A very well-stated piece that offers another perspective on the question of male-female imbalances in the magazine world.