Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Man (staff?) the barricades?

Well, what excuse can one offer for tardiness in writing, but the usual complaint about Christmas holidays, plus an arduous CD recording schedule? I promise to post with greater regularity. All in all, not a bad Christmas, though, with trips to Burnaby with dear son Daniel to see his grandmother, a modest birthday celebration (which I quickly blanked from my mind) and Christmas dinner at Brian and Judy's house. This was topped off by an outing to Matisse’s Restaurant where I and a friend were treated to exquisite French cuisine and entertainment courtesy of the establishment's thoroughly engaging owner. Matisse's is much recommended.

As for the CD, we are heading down the stretch, with a super job on piano and synthesizer turned in so far by Karel Roessingh and on drums by Jerry Adolphe. A few main vocals remain to be done, plus violin and accordion by the redoubtable Calvin Cairns, slide guitar by the righteous Ken Hamm and incidental pieces on bagpipe, penny whistle and hand drum. With any luck we'll have it all mixed and mastered and in hand for our first 2008 gig February 29 at the Acoustic Cafe. Details to come.

Some may wonder where I find time to read, but I've managed to make time for an excellent essay by the Canadian poet and critic Carmine Starnino. Starnino comes in for some justified knuckle wrapping for his rough treatment of some of our established poets. That said, the title essay of his book "A Lover's Quarrel" is compelling. In sum, he argues that in their efforts these three or four decades to produce a national poetry by turning their backs on established international lights from the UK and the US, Canadian poets have actually robbed themselves of vital influences - influences that far from "colonizing" Canadian poetry might have helped to invigorate and shape it.

One reviewer replies saying Starnino has set up a false dichotomy, another that the poets he endorses bear suspiciously close relationships to the publication Starnino himself edits, still another that those endorsements fall short of the critical acumen Starnino prescribes for other critics. Interestingly, few take him to task over his attempted evisceration of the reputations of some of our most notable poets. Can it be that he has won tacit consensus for a fresh aesthetic/critical agenda? A tall order, perhaps, though I agree with one reviewer who considers it an important essay, if only because it asks us to challenge some of our assumptions about the Canadian poetry scene.

Other critical titles worth reading:

Alfred Corn's "The Poet's Heartbeat: A Manual of Prosody”
Robert Pinsky's "The Sounds of Poetry"
John Hollander's “Sound and Sense”

Each of these provides a progressively helpful elucidation of metre, culminating in a rather difficult analysis of the principle historical outcome of traditional prosody by Charles O. Hartmann called “Free Verse: An Essay on Prosody.” Difficult, and not everyone’s cup of tea, but I persevere.

No comments: