Friday, August 22, 2008


I've been alternating between two texts of late, when not tippity-tappety-ing emails in the interest of setting up a fall line-up for both Aqua Books and the upcoming Nightowls & Newborns Western Tour with Kerry Ryan.

Regarding the latter, I'm happy to announce the following dates:
October 2: Tour launch, Aqua Books, Winnipeg
October 5: Reading as a part of the Tonight It's Poetry Series, Saskatoon
October 7: Reading to a University of Alberta creative writing class, Edmonton
October 9: Reading at Luther College, University of Regina, Regina
October 11: Reading at the public library, Prince Albert
But those two texts. Hand-written, as often about writing as any other topics, both aware of the impression they may or may not have on their readers, both needy.

As I look over the 30 pages of hand-written notes I made at Sage Hill towards my new project on fathers and daughters, on Thomas Edison and his eldest daughter Marion "Dot" Edison, on Donald Peter Gordon and his eldest daughter Ariel Jane Day Gordon, I'm feeling vulnerable.

And, exhausted after a sixteen hour work day yesterday and sick with a cold to boot, I'm trying to welcome that vulnerability.

So I'm going to share two passages from those two texts I mentioned that have touched me somehow, in their wistful arguments for love and writing and poetry.

141. Shortly after the Twentieth of the Ninth Month

"Shortly after the Twentieth of the Ninth Month, I went on a pilgrimage to Hase Temple and spent the night in a very simple lodging. Being exhausted, I fell at once into a sound sleep.

When I woke up late at night, the moonlight was pouring in through the window and shining on the bed-clothes of all the other people in the room. Its clear white brilliance moved me greatly. It is on such occasions that people write poems."

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon (Penguin Classics, translated and edited by Ivan Morris, 1967)

* * *

"Mina was very kind to me when she was here and I really think Papa that I love her truly and that every day she takes more and more the place of my own mother, you ought to be very happy in having such a noble woman to love you and I hope it will ever continue so.

Did you darling Papa ever hear such good advice from a daughter before, one would think thus I had gone over the trials of life and were try to make you profit by my experience. [...]

Dear darling papa I hope that I will be such a nice woman and so accomplished that you will not altogether think that I am undeserving of all that you have done for me. I study all the time now and not only for knowledge but to show you that I love you."

A letter from Marion Estelle Edison to Thomas Alva Edison, circa 1889, from Bradford Boarding School. Marion was 16, her new step-mother Mina 24. (The Edison Papers at Rutgers University)


Polly said...

When's TOronto???

Ariel Gordon said...

There isn't an Eastern leg of the tour, unfortunately...