Back to the Laptop, a Round-Up
I’ve been a busy little boy over these last 48 hours. The reading at Pivot went very well, and the TPL’s Book Lover’s Ball (I sat with banking executives, they loved me in a way only grim-faced stoicism can express) was full of high-fashion, gourmet food, and lots of other things I know nothing about.
I’m glad to see the conversation I had started about annotation in poetry collections has taken-off without me. I’ll make an effort to read my way back to being abreast of the argument and try to weigh in again. These sorts of conversations are why I started the blog: smart people, having thought about something of importance for a long period of time, arriving at the polar opposite opinion on an issue.
Those of you who can brave the National Post long enough to get in under the hard crusty shell of failing neo-con print culture to the delicious spongy cake of their tops-in-the-country book blog, The Afterword, may already know this next update. Somewhat disappointed, as I have been, by the move in recent years to more mainstream, pre-approved Canlit titles by the CBC’s book discussion club, Canada Reads, the boys at The Afterword thought up an idea for a sort of Canada Reads Shadow Cabinet. They are calling this (of course) Canada Also Reads and have asked me to be one of the eight appointed Book Defenders. I’ll be vouching for Leon Rooke’s sublime new short story collection, The Last Shot. I think you should read it. There, see how good I am at vouching?
The way this will work, I think, is there will be a parade of personal essays on the eight selected books later this month, then a live-blogging Battle Royale of some sort in early March. Stay tuned.
The Olympics start today, and I’ll be watching. I know there’s legitimate reasons to ignore and even dislike them, but I can’t be asked. Censorship and arts funding and the homeless and whatnot are not to be ignored, but are also not to be pinned on a group of young competitors with stubborn ambitions and poverty statistics to rival any poet’s. Sports have some things figured out that us artists are centuries away from understanding, and there are things we can learn from them. Imagine, a playground reserved for only the people who are the very best in the world at whatever tiny, repetitive thing they do. And we get to watch them do it this on the T.V. And it even happens in our country. I’m sold. The Vancouver poet laureate turned down an invite to participate in the games, which is what they call, in politics, “playing to your base”. Though, as I said above, he had his choice of legitimate reasons.
However, for this viewer, it remains one of more undigestible traits shared among poets that we withdraw from participating in any element of the larger society that troubles our delicate morality. We are always the martyrs we’ve been looking for. And in two weeks, when this is all over, we’ll go back to complaining about how the rest of the world ignores us. If only there was a gold medal for being more noble than everyone else.