Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Reprint: CBC's Manitoba Scene

Winnipeg poet prepares for flooding with poetry
Posted by Ariel Gordon, poet

I grew up in a house on the river in St. Vital.

That meant the lights and music of the Paddlewheel Princess on summer weekends and the awful clunk of metal on ice as my father cleared a rink come winter.
That also meant meant finding a perch somewhere during break-up every spring and listening to the thousand tinkling chandeliers, the thousand jaws crushing cubes.

Trees went by. Uprooted trees and unmoored docks and lawn chairs on giant slabs of ice.

Some years, the river corridor at the bottom of our property filled with water. That meant our basement was also flooded, and that our neighbours' basements were also flooded, and that once the water receded we'd all work to salvage what we could and pitch what we couldn't.

In 1997, I was living in Halifax and watched the wall of water approach Winnipeg frame by frame on the news. My father and his family were evacuated, just as my father and his family were evacuated during the 1950 flood.

How do you prepare for flooding? You install a sump pump and back water valve and hope that this year, it isn't your basement that gets the fallout of settling a flood plain.

If you're me, you write poems. Poems on "How to Prepare for Flooding" and "How to Survive a Plane Crash" but also "How to Sew a Button" and "How to Water Your Lawn Effectively" that are riffs on the wikiHows of the same names.

(Oh, and you find a brilliant designer to work when you're laying them out. And a nifty little chapbook press out of Saskatoon to publish them...)

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