Saturday, April 16, 2011

Reprint: CBC's Manitoba Scene

The CBC's new local arts website, Manitoba Scene, is doing coverage of some of this year's Manitoba Book Award nominees.

(As you'll recall, I was interviewed for CBC's Weekend Morning Show just before the MBA nominee lists were announced. The radio interviews and the web coverage is part of the same CBC whole...)

Here's what I contributed to the site:
When CBC producers suggested that I write something, anything about poetry for Manitoba Scene, for the first time in a long time I was stuck.

I can write poems on subjects as diverse as breasts and light bulbs, but ask me to write 300 words on anything-at-all and I've got...nothing.

So I checked the website. Fellow Manitoba Book Awards nominee Dora Dueck wrote on the topic Some Reasons Why I Write. And I cursed her, not because of her nominations or her book, but because I coveted her subject.

I could have written about that, I thought mournfully. And rubbed my tired eyes.

And then I craftily submitted a poem called How to Write a Poem. It's a prose poem and so I thought would fool the copy-hungry producers.

And it's even funny, I thought bleakly. Funny is good.

Except I forgot that it's ALSO chock full of swearing, oral sex, and uses the word 'porn' prominently.

When they wrote back suggesting that I excise the naked bits or, you know, actually write something, I agreed that was probably best.

And returned to muttering and mashing my eyes, which by now felt like they might start weeping blood.

My last contact with the CBC included the suggestion that I write about the first poem I ever wrote.

Oooh! I squealed. I like that.

And I did, except that when I sat down to write about 'my very first poem,' I couldn't remember what my very first poem was.

Partly, that's because I started writing 'seriously' at 13, which is a quarter century ago now.

It's also because my first attempts at writing were image-dense, clause-heavy fictions that ran about a page. Teachers and, later, editors weren't sure if they were fiction or poetry. I just knew they were what I was driven to write....

So here I am, arrived at my 300 words. And I've mostly just complained.

Sadly, that's completely typical of my life and my writing life.

Oh! I almost forgot: I deeply and desperately love poetry. And I think you should too.

Manitoba Scene's MBA coverage also includes posts by Charlene Diehl, Di Brandt, and Joan Thomas, which are smart and feeling takes on their writing practices (i.e. the polar opposite of my post).

Yay slight answers to serious questions! Fun!


Monique said...

Hi Ariel,

I was reading the CBC online and saw your article and thought "I haven't talked to her in ages - I wonder how she is?". It's Monique, from the Writers Festival, btw. Congratulations on your poety being published. I hope you're doing well!

Ariel Gordon said...

Hey Monique! Nice to e-see you! How goes it?