A Nightcap with Irises & Diana HayesSaturday, October 26, 2019
Poetry has been very much like my shadow on a sunny day. I have never been able to avoid it. In my teenage years I was never able to get extra points in class by memorizing poems. I could not.
In 1966 when I often went to the Librería Pigmalion on Calle Corrientes in Buenos Aires to buy books in English I was much too ignorant to notice the older blind man who was there and bought many books. He was a well known Anglophile who was also the head of the Biblioteca Nacional Mariano Moreno.
It wasn’t until sometime in the late 70s that I was dragged by a friend to see Allen Ginsberg at the Italian Cultural Centre. I was not impressed. In fact I was bored. But then that’s when I first heard GerryGilbert. He introduced me to the idea that poetry could be fun.
Since then I have read the poetry of Gilbert, George Bowering, George McWhirter, Evelyn Lau, William Carlos Williams, Emily Dickinson, Brad Cran, Mexican poet Homero Aridjis, Uruguayans Mario Benedetti and Eduardo Galeano and, yes, that blind Argentine poet.
But besides the fun of poetry I learned that poetry could be sensual and nothing could be more than my memory of Susan Musgrave reading her poetry while wearing red pumps and a form fitting skirt.
It was such a poet that I first met sometime around 1984 in Vancouver. She had that gaze that made you want to look down and her poetry was full of that Musgravian sensuality.
The poet reading on Thursday with short grey hair, that gaze full on, was not your average BC poet. She had a fondness for expensive German dressage saddles and owned a horse. Now she likes to swim in the local sea waters all year round.
Her name was and is Diana Hayes.
I went to a reading of hers at HOOD29 on Main Street this past Thursday. The reading also featured Eufemia Fantetti and George Stanley.
Hayes’s book, a just-published 7th, Labyrinth of Green (Plumleaf Press – and imprint of Rubicon Publishing Inc.) is not your usual poetry book. It is unusual in that it also features the poet’s photographs and every chapter of poetry is introduced by her luminous prose. As far as I know only one of the few to have done the latter was Argentine Julio Cortázar who published his poetry with many of his short stories.
The erstwhile passion of my favourite Hayes poetry is now not so evident. Like the forests that she loves and enjoys in her home of Saltspring Island, the reader (as I found out) has to put on comfortable walking shoes and explore.
The calmness of a forest is what I saw and recognized in this poet’s face when she read.